HM Insights

Who will look after my finances if I am unable to?

Stroke Awareness Month operates annually from 1 May to 31 May.  This year, the Stroke Association have launched a new campaign called "Save Research. Rebuild lives."  Throughout the month, the Stroke Association aim is to increase awareness on the impact of the coronavirus on stroke research.  In previous years, the Stroke Association marked Stroke Awareness Month with their Make May Purple movement.

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Strokes affect the blood supply to your brain which can cause significant damage to your brain cells.  This can result in disability, brain injury or potentially death. The severity of a stroke and the consequences of same can therefore vary.  It may impact your capacity (i.e. your ability to make decisions for yourself).  Alternatively, you may retain your capacity but the impact of a stroke could result in a loss of independence to the extent that you require support from third parties.  For example, you may require assistance in purchasing groceries, dealing with your finances etc. 

Naturally, this may lead you to wonder – what happens if I am unable to look after my finances and/or make decisions for myself?  One solution is to prepare a Power of Attorney which assists in protecting your wellbeing and/or your assets. 

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which can last for your lifetime and it allows you to appoint one or more people whom you trust to act as your Attorney.  Your Attorneys are responsible for dealing with your affairs in the event that you became unable to do so either temporarily or permanently. 

There are two types of Powers of Attorney – continuing Powers of Attorney and welfare Powers of a Attorney.  Although it is common to have a continuing and welfare Power of Attorney simultaneously, it is not unusual to only have a continuing or welfare Power of Attorney. 

A continuing Power of Attorney allows appointed Attorneys to carry out tasks associated with your financial affairs and property.  Such powers may come into force immediately while you have capacity as you may require to use it out of convenience rather than necessity.

A welfare Power of Attorney, on the other hand, allows your Attorneys to make decisions about your welfare and health should you lose the ability to make such decisions on your own. 

When should I prepare a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney can only be created when you have capacity. Although there is no specific time frame in which you should prepare a Power of Attorney, you are never too young to create one as accidents and illness can happen at any time. 

In the event that you lose capacity, a Power of Attorney cannot be prepared.  Instead, a close relative or friend would need to instruct a solicitor to apply to the Court for a Guardianship Order.  This is more costly and it can be extremely stressful on those applying on your behalf.  It can also be a prolonged process.  Most importantly, the individual applying to be your Guardian may not be who you would have chosen as your Attorney. 

Get in touch

Our approachable Private Client Team at Harper Macleod will work with you in relation to any issue involving a Power of Attorney.